Monday, March 10, 2014

The Fight for Voting Rights

Making the case for “boots-on-the-ground” intervention

clip_image002Photo - Aerial view of Pettus Bridge Crossing. (Google)

By Stephanie A. Walker Stradford and Eric Stradford, USMC Retired

AMWS, March 10, 2014, Selma, Al -- No death, injuries or outbreak of violence clouded an otherwise warm and sunny Sunday in Selma.

Yesterday, however, the historic struggle for human rights in America looked more like an episode from the popular television show, Scandal. A “B-6-13” like security presence caused concern among organizers and marchers as the demonstration moves from Selma to the nation’s capital this week.

Plain clothes drivers of gas-guzzling SUVs pulled out in front of marchers, fuming Southern Christian Leaders Charles and Cathelean Steele, activist Dick Gregory, an army of aging foot-soldiers, politicians, and historically disenfranchised children of American Civil Rights. Some may have perceived that this type of intervention was for the protection of the marchers.

clip_image004Despite repeated requests by the Bridge Crossing Jubilee coordinator, Faya Rose Toure, for vehicles to move forward to increase space between the fumes and marchers, her appeals were disregarded by “orders” from someone, somewhere.

At one point, Amelia Boynton, was on the front line of the march in her wheelchair. Symbolically, the 102 year old Mother of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, stepped in between right and wrong to fight for justice one more time. Clearly, “help” from Washington fanned frustrations over the U.S. Supreme Court decision on parts of The Voting Rights Act.

Today, the fight for voting rights continues with “Freedom Rides” from Pettus Bridge to the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery. From there, to Tuskeegee; and, by 3:30 pm, demonstrations are scheduled at the state house in Atlanta, GA.

Bridge Crossing Coordinator, Toure, expressed concern that some friends from Washington, DC “do not appear to share the spirit and labor of Jubilee.” In an open letter to the Faith and Politics Institute, a national 501(c)(3) charity supporting art, culture, and humanities, Toure invited Faith and Politics to “share work and responsibility” as a true partner in the Jubilee. The massive Faith and Politics presence inside Brown Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church may have offered the best evidence that, after nearly a half century, substantive change was on its way to Selma.

clip_image006Photo - Bishop James L. Davis is Episcopal “servant leader” for AME churches across Alabama.

At first glance, the intervention may look more like a drone-type strategy, with “potates” roped off from “po-folk.”

But a closer look at servant leaders, such as Bishop James Levert Davis of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and Bishop Dennis V. Proctor of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church offers hope that Healing America can begin, today.

Bishop Proctor noted that it would “take a whole village and churches to support the village” to Raise America. Continued dialogue and strategic planning among assets of the Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs and National Learn-2-Earn Partnership addresses local concerns about federal and philanthropic partners.

Southern Christian Leaders developing programs in support of the President’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative see the opportunity to build on past investments with cooperative local and federal planning.

The stretch of U.S. 80 between Selma and Montgomery has made its mark in history.

You might say that many foot-soldiers were “my brother and sister’s keeper” in the Civil Rights war against injustice. The National Park Service offers some insight for local and national cooperation in on-demand learning along this 54-mile national historic trail. Their boots- on-the-ground mission has been to interpret historic events in context with present day learning.


TOP LEFT -- Stephanie A. Walker Stradford, CEO, Youth Achievers USA, pulls double duty as a national correspondent for The Christian Recorder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and a “boots-on-the-ground advocate” for Positive Youth Development. TOP RIGHT - SCLC National President Charles Steele (center left) with First Lady Cathelean Steele carry on a Southern Christian Leadership tradition of humility and sacrifice in service. BOTTOM- Activist Dick Gregory, a model for “My Brother’s Keeper,” steps out to greet well wishers.

Selma to D.C. Freedom Rides for Voting Rights

Sunday - March 9, 2014

10:00 a.m. - Sunday Morning Prayer, Praise and Worship

1:30 p.m. – Pre-March Rally, Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church

2:30 p.m. – Edmund Pettus Bridge Crossing

Monday - March 10, 2014

8:00 a.m. – Leave Edmund Pettus Bridge – Selma, AL

9:00 a.m. – Montgomery, AL State Capitol

11:00 a.m. – Tuskegee, AL Municipal Complex

3:30 p.m. – Atlanta, GA State Capitol

Tuesday - March 11, 2014

9:30 a.m. – Columbia, SC State Capitol

4:00 p.m. – Raleigh, NC State Capitol

Wednesday - March 12, 2014

9:00 a.m. – Richmond, VA State Capitol

2:00 p.m. – U.S. Supreme Court, Washington, DC

4:00 p.m. – U.S. Capitol, Washington, DC

Wednesday - March 28-29, 2014

Talking Points: My Brother’s Keeper

Morehouse College – U.S. Department of Education on African Americans

The President’s My Brother’s Keeper Task Force will work across executive departments and agencies to:

Assess the impact of Federal policies, regulations, and programs of general applicability on boys and young men of color, so as to develop proposals that will enhance positive outcomes and eliminate or reduce negative ones.

Recommend, where appropriate, incentives for the broad adoption by national, State, and local public and private decision makers of effective and innovative strategies and practices for providing opportunities to and improving outcomes for boys and young men of color.

Create an Administration-wide “What Works” online portal to disseminate successful programs and practices that improve outcomes for boys and young men of color.

Develop a comprehensive public website that is maintained by the Department of Education to assess, on an ongoing basis, critical indicators of life outcomes for boys and young men of color in absolute and relative terms.

Work with external stakeholders to highlight the opportunities, challenges, and efforts affecting boys and young men of color.

Recommend to the President means of ensuring sustained efforts within the Federal Government and continued partnership with the private sector and philanthropic community as set forth in the Presidential Memorandum.

Talking Points: National Learn-2-Earn (Future Corps)

The National Learn-2-Earn Partnership envisions an American future in which citizens of color are valued as equals (vs. minorities) and economic means are applied to economic needs.

The partnership invites any family, local or national nonprofit, church, ministry, foundation or agency to engage in boots-on-the-ground intervention for HEALING, FEEDING, HOUSING, LEARNING, EARNING, LIVING and GIVING. An interdisciplinary approach seeks support from Interior, Commerce, Treasury, Transportation, and Homeland Security to augment existing Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs (IWGYP) strategic planning. The L2E demonstration specifically applies to the IWGYP’s definition of POSITIVE YOUTH DEVELOPMENT

· The L2E demonstration invests in a Future Corps of Americans, youth ages 7-24, each of whom will qualify as a Community Asset by writing seven (7) personal goals for interdisciplinary lifelong learning and earning.

· The L2E demonstration engages a whole village of 20 caring adults as economic stakeholders in each Community Asset’s future.

· The L2E demonstration qualifies one of 20 caring adults as a Community Asset Manager through whom resources are managed for each Community Asset and 20 economic stakeholders.

· The L2E demonstration begins an investment of $5 per caring adult stakeholder for an initial deposit of $100 for each Community Asset.

· The L2E demonstration qualifies Community Asset Managers and youth beneficiaries for program task force participation and election as officers of participating nonprofit corporations.

· The demonstration identifies a national 501c3 public charity applicant for federal and philanthropic investment. Philanthropic investment of $5 million USD funds annual operating budgets of $500K USD for 10 years.

· A Microsoft grant provides immediate technical support and sustainable engagement of 24 Community Asset Managers.

· A Merck Foundation grant supports initial partnership development and match funding for quantifying each Community Asset.

· A CORPORATION FOR NATIONAL SERVICE grant (May 2014 pending) outlines an overall Boots-on-the-Ground strategy featuring lessons learned from the American Civil Rights movement, FDIC Financial Literacy and circular capacity building.

· A Kellogg Foundation grant (applied for) identifies matching funds for the CORPORATION FOR NATIONAL SERVICE demonstration. Requested funding supports 6 of 24 Community Asset Manager positions. Support from My brother’s Keeper partners would expedite development efforts.

· An ASSETS FOR INDEPENDENCE grant (requires federal policy action) identifies a federal source for an eight to one (8:1) match towards a Community Asset.

· A CDFI New Market Tax Credit allocation of $150 million identifies a source of philanthropic capital for funding replicable 10 year nonprofit budgets.

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